Author(s): Woo PC, Lau SK, Huang Y, Yuen KY
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Abstract The SARS epidemic has boosted interest in research on coronavirus biodiversity and genomics. Before 2003, there were only 10 coronaviruses with complete genomes available. After the SARS epidemic, up to December 2008, there was an addition of 16 coronaviruses with complete genomes sequenced. These include two human coronaviruses (human coronavirus NL63 and human coronavirus HKU1), 10 other mammalian coronaviruses [bat SARS coronavirus, bat coronavirus (bat-CoV) HKU2, bat-CoV HKU4, bat-CoV HKU5, bat-CoV HKU8, bat-CoV HKU9, bat-CoV 512/2005, bat-CoV 1A, equine coronavirus, and beluga whale coronavirus] and four avian coronaviruses (turkey coronavirus, bulbul coronavirus HKU11, thrush coronavirus HKU12, and munia coronavirus HKU13). Two novel subgroups in group 2 coronavirus (groups 2c and 2d) and two novel subgroups in group 3 coronavirus (groups 3b and 3c) have been proposed. The diversity of coronaviruses is a result of the infidelity of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, high frequency of homologous RNA recombination, and the large genomes of coronaviruses. Among all hosts, the diversity of coronaviruses is most evidenced in bats and birds, which may be a result of their species diversity, ability to fly, environmental pressures, and habits of roosting and flocking. The present evidence supports that bat coronaviruses are the gene pools of group 1 and 2 coronaviruses, whereas bird coronaviruses are the gene pools of group 3 coronaviruses. With the increasing number of coronaviruses, more and more closely related coronaviruses from distantly related animals have been observed, which were results of recent interspecies jumping and may be the cause of disastrous outbreaks of zoonotic diseases.
This article was published in Exp Biol Med (Maywood)
and referenced in Virology & Mycology